Press Centre

Asda to cut packaing dramatically - using lessons from the past

Asda has launched a radical study which could virtually eliminate the need for packaging on fresh fruit and vegetables.

It is boosting dramatically the amount of fresh produce sold loose from boxes – recreating the look and feel of a traditional greengrocer shop from the 1950s.

At the same time, the range of pre-packed items on sale will be restricted substantially, cutting overnight the amount of plastic and cardboard used to wrap our food.

The move heralds a return to old fashioned retailing methods – the first step taken towards the past by any retailer for almost 60 years.

Over the next 12 months the supermarket intends to slash the amount of packaging it uses on own label food by 25%.

Said Asda’s anti-packaging expert Emma Sinclair-Morris: "We believe this return to traditional values could have a huge impact upon the amount of packaging thrown away every day.

“Reducing packaging is one of Asda’s key objectives, and we are considering every option to achieve this goal.”

A pilot scheme examining customer reaction to the plan will take place in two Asda stores in the North West of England next week.

Around 60 pre-pack products will be removed as part of the trial. Only delicate fruits like raspberries that require packaging to protect them will remain on sale, alongside a small number of convenience products like pre-prepared vegetables.

Retail experts suspect that many pre-packed items of fruit and veg are bought through habit as much as convenience.

They also want to make sure that customers are happy to buy fruit and veg in much the same way that their parents and grandparents would have done several decades ago.

If the trial is successful, the scheme will be rolled out to every Asda store across the UK.

Said Asda’s Emma Sinclair-Morris: "We believe that out customers would prefer to shop in this traditional way if it means reducing waste and protecting our environment.

“Some fragile items of fresh produce such as strawberries and raspberries will always require some degree of packaging for protection, but most items can be sold loose will preserving their high quality.

“This study will enable us to see if it is possible to encourage our customers to shop in a different manner to keep waste – and costs – to a minimum.”

Pre-packed fresh and veg currently accounts for up to 60 per cent of all fresh produce sold by most major supermarket sin the UK.

Posted in Press Centre on 01 February 2007